Single Platform vs. Multiple Platform: 4 Guidelines for Releasing an App

When you’re just starting out with mobile app development for smart devices, deciding which platform to focus on can be a daunting process. While you’re just learning the ropes and developing the skills necessary to actually complete an app, the choice often as simple as developing for the platform closest to you, and the one you’re most comfortable using in everyday life.

Honing your skills developing apps which you can test on your own devices that you’re already experienced in using is the easiest way to test the waters and become comfortable with your capabilities as a learning developer. Once you begin thinking about a commercial future and begin looking into how releasing an app works though, things quickly start to change.

Although focusing on a single platform is technically easier, it’s important to remember that learning a new platform takes time, and it’s much easier to learn new development environments while you’re still progressing as a developer.

In essence, there are reasons both to focus on a single platform, and to consider the possibility of targeting multiple, and below we’ll examine a few of the most significant ones.

1. Multi-Platform Releases Have Access to a Much Larger Potential Userbase

There are many reasons why it’s important to consider the pros and cons of planning to release an app on only a single platform or several. Different platforms have their own strengths and weaknesses the aspiring commercial app developer has to understand in order to make an informed choice.

Apps which are released on a single platform are, naturally, limited to that platforms userbase exclusively. Each platform has a massive amount of users, but when you’re just beginning to release apps commercially, exposure is key. Releasing an app to multiple platforms helps to increase the odds that it’ll be noticed thanks to the potential user base skyrocketing.

2. Platforms are Often Environmentally Unique

One of the biggest hurdles developers have to overcome in order to release on multiple platforms is the unique development needs of each. The primary, ideal programming languages for each unique platform are almost guaranteed to be different, which means a developer has to manage multiple programming languages, and learn how to port their software effectively between the platforms.

Design specifications, device hardware and screen resolutions, battery life considerations and even device specific development costs have to be carefully considered before development even begins. Basically, each platform will have its own essential development standards that have to be met in order to have an app even considered for release, and depending on an app developer’s skill level, managing every minor detail between each platform can be incredibly challenging.

3. Cost-Benefit Potential

As briefly touched on above, developing for multiple platforms means taking on additional development costs for each unique platform you intend to release on. Furthermore, each platform adds extra development time, which can be costly.

Conversely, a successful app which is available on multiple major platforms is likely to go further than an app limited to only a single platform, and even a marginally successful app across both platforms is likely to perform better financially than a marginally successful app limited to a single platform. Evaluating the risk/reward potential of both options is essential before making a final decision.

4. Platform Marketplaces are Unique

The users of each platform and its associated app store are unique and expect different things, and as a result, different types of apps are likely to perform differently depending on what platform they’re released on. Whether you’re developing a game, a utility, or some other type of app, it’s important to consider how similar types of apps perform in each marketplace. While each marketplace will have its popular apps in every category, some types of applications are simply more sought out on specific platforms, which can affect where you should consider releasing your completed product on.

Whether you decide to focus on a single platform or aim to launch your application on several, it’s important to always consider your options. Carefully research each platform you’re interested in, and you’re sure to make the right decision in the end.